part of our coverage each of our reporters were asked to pick out what they
considered the Best of Show product, service, or idea. In most cases it is the
item that caused them to reconsider how they worked or that sparked their imagination.
While each reporter had their beat, this category was open game for all, and
most "crossed lines" to find their pick.
Canon's EOS-1D Mark III And Olympus' EVOLT E-510
The fastest D-SLR camera in the world, the new Canon EOS-1D Mark III definitely
deserves the Best of Show award because of its 10 frame per second (fps) Drive
mode and full-time live view option (with manual focus only). While not everyone
needs such blazing speeds, sports, news, wildlife, and celebrity photographers
are probably lining up to get this entirely new 10-megapixel camera. My colleague
Joe Farace provides full specifics in his report in this issue, but several
features are worth additional emphasis. In my estimation the following will
be most valuable in real-world photography: the Live View mode that allows for
a preview of the scene for long periods of time on the huge 3" LCD monitor,
the ultrasonic sensor cleaning system, and the 1/300 sec flash sync speed that's
great for outdoor photography in bright light.
Sure, the EOS-1D Mark III is huge, heavy, and expensive, but it's built
like a tank, incredibly well sealed against dust and moisture and is among the
most versatile cameras on the market. Note, too, that the CMOS sensor is much
larger than average so the photosites (pixels) are larger, potentially providing
wider dynamic range and superior high ISO quality. Because of the larger sensor,
the "focal length conversion factor" is only 1.3x instead of the
more typical 1.6x. That's ideal for anyone who loves ultra-wide angle
photography because there's less need for unusually short focal length
lenses. Hopefully, Canon will also introduce a more affordable (consumer-grade)
EOS camera with the 3" LCD and Live View mode even if it will offer only
the more common APS-size sensor and 3 fps advance rate. And that is likely before
the end of 2007 since the best features of the pro cameras generally begin to
work their way down the line within a year or less.
Those who want a budget-priced ($799, list) D-SLR with a live view feature
will love my second choice as Best of Show: the new 10-megapixel Olympus EVOLT
E-510. This full-featured camera not only provides full-time live preview on
its 2.5" LCD screen but allows for the use of autofocus during that process.
Granted, that's a bit slow because the reflex mirror must flip out of
the light path for the AF system to operate but it certainly works well otherwise.
The even more affordable ($699) and smaller EVOLT E-410 provides the same resolution
and live preview feature, but I selected the E-510 because it offers a significant
bonus: a built-in Image Stabilizer that works with any compatible (Four Thirds)
mount lens. Similar in concept to the CCD-shift Stabilizer employed by Sony
and Pentax for their D-SLRs, the Olympus system should be just as effective
in minimizing image blur caused by camera shake.
--Peter K. Burian
HP's Designjet Z3100
My Best of Show pick is the HP Designjet Z3100, with 12 pigment inks and 200
years archival life. Sized up to 44" wide, the printer even includes a
built-in spectrophotometer for creating custom profiles. If you're a black
and white fan, the printer works as a quadtone black with two blacks and two
grays when printing to fine art papers. The gloss enhancer eliminates bronzing
and gloss differential when printing on gloss and satin media.
Canon's PowerShot TX1
Maybe it was the motel I stayed in during PMA, where I was treated to live daily
performances of TV's Cops (or maybe it was Reno 911), but my accommodations
and the live action made me susceptible to the charms of video capture. That
may be the reason my Best of Show is Canon's PowerShot TX1, a "do-it-all"
capture device. It's more than just another digicam. For openers, it's
a 7.1-megapixel TX1 digital camera wrapped in a cool-looking stainless steel
case about the size of a deck of playing cards. The TX1 has an Optically Image
Stabilized 39-390mm (equivalent) zoom lens and an LCD screen that swings out
camcorder-like from the camera's side.
The camcorder analogy is appropriate because the TX1 has 30 fps High Definition
video capability. Its Image Stabilization system shifts the lens to compensate
for unwanted motion, making it easy to capture movies in low-light conditions.
The TX1 digital camera can shoot 640x480 pixel video clips at 30 fps in a traditional
4:3 aspect ratio with the option of shooting at 30 fps or 60 fps at 320x240
pixels. Its MovieSnap feature even lets you capture high-resolution still images
while recording movies. For storage, the device uses SD, MMC, MMCplus, and the
new SDHC memory cards.
Like its big brother and Canon's new halo camera, the EOS-1D Mark III,
the TX1 has a DIGIC III image processor (but only one of them) that offers aggressive
noise reduction and the ability to shoot from ISO 80 to 1600. In addition, the
camera has Face Detection (soon to be appearing on everybody's point-and-shoot)
that can detect, lock on, and track multiple human faces in a scene. The TX1
uses this for video clips as well as still images. What would Face Detection
be without Red-eye Correction? Canon's latest version detects and corrects
same during playback or manually while viewing photos on the TX1's LCD
The TX1 digital camera has 14 Shooting modes, including Automatic, Manual, Super
Macro, Color Accent, Color Swap,
Stitch-Assist, and seven Special Scene modes with Portrait, Night Snapshot,
Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, and Aquarium for your next visit to Monterey.
The TX1 is compatible with Windows Vista and XP as well as recent versions of
Mac OS X. I predict the $499.99 PowerShot TX1 will be as important a camera
and show the direction for future Canon offerings just like the company's
original Sure Shot.